The 3 Critical Strengths of High-Performing Consultative Salespeople

3 strengths of salespeople

If you look at over seventy years of research in the field of psychometrics, including findings presented in the Gallup organization’s book, First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Best Managers Do Differently, you will notice that there are 3 factors that contribute to consistencyenhanced performance and happiness for any employee. In this article, I'm going to focus on how these relate specifically to Consultative Salespeople.

 The first factor is: 

1. Knowledge:

And this does not mean simply coming to the table with a high IQ and advanced degrees. What I mean here is specific knowledgethat relates directly to the job the employee is doing.

For example:

Say you have a BA in finance, an MBA and a CPA. Of course you’ve acquired some knowledge in getting your education. However, if you're hired as a Consultative Salesperson, your BA, MBA and CPA will have little, if anything, to do with the job you are now doing. What you need is the SPECIFIC KNOWLEDGE of what it takes to be a Consultative Salesperson in order to achieve success in that role. The specific knowledge that a Consultative Salesperson must possess includes things such as training in Consultative Sales Skills, specific product/service knowledge for what they are selling, training in the use of a Customer Relationship Management tool (CRM) like, ACT, or MS Dynamics, etc. 

2. Skills: 

The mastery of the application of the specific knowledge to accomplish an end result.

Let’s break this idea down further:

Say Brandon has a college degree and has a certificate in Consultative Sales Skills, but he hasn’t actually worked and achieved success as a Consultative Salesperson. It will take him a minimum of 3-5 years in order to achieve mastery as a Consultative Salesperson. What you need from your employee (presumably not the inexperienced Brandon!) is demonstrated mastery of the knowledge.

Napoleon Hill famously said that KNOWLEDGE IS ONLY POTENTIAL POWER. Unless you utilize that knowledge in a practical manner, that knowledge will wither; it will go to waste. A consistent employee will have utilized his knowledge towards mastering a skill that is relevant to his role. 

3. Traits:

Thenatural alignment between the individual's traits and the required traits of the job. 

What I mean by "Traits" is how a person ishardwiredto think and feelabout whatever confronts him and will predict how he will behave in most situations. Traits are inheritedand for the most part, you are born with them (you will also enhance and acquire them early in life, though they are always fixed by your mid teens). Some examples of traits include attention to detail, persuasiveness, assertiveness and results-orientation. 

This is what traits are not: values, attitudes, or beliefs. They are also not BEHAVIORS. Unlike traits, behaviors are predominantly learned. They are a product of our environments, of the influence of our parents, friends, teachers, bosses, coaches, etc. 

It is often preached that you should hire for behavior, but based on what I just described, this is faulty advice. Since behaviors are learned, not innate, oftentimes they are inconsistent with an individual’s hardwired traits. This incongruity makes it very difficult for the individual to maintain certain behaviors for any significant length of time. 

Recent advances in neuroscience and psychometrics tell us that all humans have an innate, measurable adaptability score that is easily ascertained via some of the better personality profiling tools (I recommend and utilize the MPO, which is produced by Ngenio). Several of the better personality assessment tools, including the MPO, Predictive Index, and OAD to name a few, also have a tool that helps you to identify the ‘Ideal and/or Required” Traits of the job that you can then use as a benchmark against the candidate's individual personality profile. In order to behave in a different manner than in which we are hardwired requires the luxury of surplus time and energy, which many of us don’t have!

Now here is the surprising news: most people believe that great Consultative Salespeople are extroverts, when in fact, most of the better ones are actually introverts. Here’s why: 

Extroverts have a need to be liked and will do whatever it takes to get people to like them, including spending a lot more time on a sale than may be necessary, avoid going for the close so they don’t “upset” the prospect who may reject them and even when they do make a sale, they believe they just made a new best friend and then want to hang out and socialize!

Introverts are not concerned with the relationship beyond what it takes to make the sale.  Their communication style is direct and factual. They are introspective and cautious, so they tend to ask better questions, listen, and only say what is necessary. Since they are not consumed with the need to be liked, they are not as reluctant to go for the close. And when they sale is done, they are off hunting for their next deal.

The truth is this: when an individual possesses the knowledge, skills and required traits of the job, the need for that intense focus, concentration and adjustment is not necessary. This innate way of thinking and behaving is easy to execute, and therefore, enjoyable.

So in sum, if you want a consistently happy and productive employee, you have to be sure that he has the specificknowledge, the mastery of that knowledge, and the natural alignment between the individual's traits and the required traits of the job he is performing.

In my next post, I’m going to talk about the Peak Performance Profile (P3), the new job description that will help you to identify these three strengths. If you would like a free consultation on how to identify the specific Traits for your Consultative Salesperson, email me at